Tottenham’s recruiting efforts over the past decade have been curious to say the least, but none of their purchases have been as puzzling as Erik Lamela.
Eight years after his £ 33 million move from Roma, then a Spurs transfer record, he was never considered one of the first names on the team magazine, and there have been times when his future at the club has been seriously questioned.
And those questions will come back later this year, with quotes from Bologna director Walter Sabatini detailing how Serie A club wants Lamela if they lose winger Riccardo Orsolini and AC Milan.
Erik Lamela underlined his technical genius on Sunday with a rabona goal against Arsenal
But the midfielder marred his appearance after being sent for an elbow on Kieran Tierney
Sabatini said he couldn’t think of a better replacement than Lamela and if he leaves Spurs in the summer, be it Bologna or elsewhere, it’s hard to imagine there would be any major fear among Tottenham supporters.
Still, you can’t stay with a club for eight seasons and play 250 games without doing anything to impress managers – and he’s had four during his time in North London.
The recent defeat in the North London derby at Arsenal previously summed up his career at Spurs so far. His Rabona goal of opening the scoring underscored his technical genius he has displayed over the years, and while his red card was his first for the club, he acts as a proxy for the times he’s metaphorically missing on the field and with an injury off. it.
Lamela arrived at Tottenham in the summer of 2013 with huge expectations as arguably the greatest of the ‘Gareth Bale Seven’ arriving with a then outlay of £ 100m to replace the Welshman who had left for Real Madrid for a £ world record. 86 million.
Seen as Bale’s replacement, it was a huge strain on the 21-year-old. While not yet yet to establish himself as a fully recognized name across the continent, he arrived at White Hart Lane as one of the Serie A stars after a sensational season at Roma where he was confident to run with the ball and defenders. To record and end with aplomb marked him as a potential star for the future.
Lamela came from Roma at the age of 21 to a £ 33 million club record as a promising talent
Unfortunately, his first season turned into a nightmare. With the exception of Christian Eriksen, none of the ‘Bale seven’ impressed. Roberto Soldado failed to set his goals record from Spain, Paulinho and Etienne Capoue did little in midfield, Vlad Chirches’ skills on the ball failed to make up for his defensive shortcomings at the rear, and utility company Nacer Chadli struggled to get a Remarkable impact.
Where was Lamela? Usually injured. He made just two Premier League starts under Andre-Villas Boas before being sacked and one of them was in a 6-0 mauling by Manchester City.
When Tim Sherwood came in as manager in December a day after Villas-Boas’ departure, Lamela played just 90 minutes of Premier League football before a back injury ruled him out for the rest of the season on the way to 2014.
By the end of a miserable campaign for the club there were already rumors about his future, but it was hoped that new boss Mauricio Pochettino could make the most of last season’s long run of Spurs flops.
After an injury in the first year, he made headlines with a Rabona goal in the Europa League against Asteras during the 2014-15 season.
In the same season, he scored his first Premier League goal against Burnley at White Hart Lane
Lamela appears to have stepped up as he scored another sensational Rabona goal in a Europa League draw against Asteras, and his Premier League minutes increased to include his first top flight goal against Burnley.
Burnley’s attempt, cutting in from the right before picking out the top corner, was exactly what he had to do to replace Bale, but it was the exception rather than the rule.
It became clear that Lamela would not be able to replace Bale and he was about to join Marseille at the start of the 2015-16 season, before the action collapsed sensationally after Spurs failed to reach a deal on the to get a line. sign his replacement Saido Berahino on the day of the deadline.
It turned out to be a blessing. While Harry Kane had emerged as the king of White Hart Lane at the time, Lamela was a constant presence on a Spurs team leading an unexpected title attack before finally finishing third – as he thrived in attacking midfield, maybe not more than in a 3-0 win over Manchester United where he just found it.
After nearly being transferred to Marseille, Lamela emerged as the first team player in Tottenham’s unexpected Premier League title challenge during 2015-16, scoring against Manchester United (left) and prominently featured with new key figure Harry Kane ( right)
Pochettino’s side fought for the title the following season, but much of it was without Lamela who suffered a hip injury in October that shut him out for the rest of the 2016-17 season.
He wouldn’t return for more than a year, but by now he was considered a fringe player at Spurs and rarely started, despite being consistently used as a substitute.
The same pattern emerged in the following campaign, but now injuries became a constant occurrence. He missed 14 of the 38 games involving punches, strains, and hamstring and calf injuries. Last season, he missed nine more games due to hamstring problems.
The days when he became the main star of the first team are long gone for the 29-year-old, but he remains an important part of a squad that lacks power. As a versatile player, he can act across midfield and even offense.
Lamela gradually fell into the pecking order under Mauricio Pochettino, but still remained in his Argentinian countryman’s team plans.
Lamela’s stats while playing under Jose Mourinho, with information provided by SofaScore
Jose Mourinho told the Spurs players in the TV documentary that they had to be ‘intelligent c ****’ in terms of how they apply dark arts on the field and stand up for the opposition, and leave the North London derby aside. no one sees this aggression and playing skills better in the Spurs side better than Lamela.
In fact, he may be the only player capable of that on a team that often lacks character and can appear too nice.
However, it’s not the only reason Mourinho loves the Argentinian, who he has consistently praised for making himself available even when he wasn’t quite fit.
After Mourinho came back from a hamstring injury last year, he said of Lamela’s pace of work: “He’s a player that I really, really like, and always liked.
[He has] an incredible spirit to recover, an incredible spirit to work and didn’t even go home to Argentina on the days off we gave the boys. Continued to work hard here, trying to give us what he gave in the last game, without training, without conditions. ‘
Lamela’s (partially hidden third right) dark arts and playing skills have often landed opponents, including Jack Wilshere in a North London derby at Wembley in 2018
Mourinho has admitted he’s a huge fan of Lamela and the work pace he brings to the Spurs side
No Spurs fan would question Lamela’s dedication and he’s sung a popular chant to the tune of Crowded House’s hit ‘Weather with you’ from the early 1990s (always take Lamela wherever you go).
But supporters are divided on its long-term use. Some think his versatility and passion for the club is enough to hold him down, but others fear his overall impact is hugely inconsistent, and insist that he takes too many touches before giving a pass that could hinder any counterattacks. on which the Mourinho team relies heavily On.
His injury record also makes him unreliable and he could now avoid chances for younger stars at the club.
Regardless, it doesn’t look like Tottenham will ever get the full value for the £ 33m they invested in what they thought was a Bale replacement, but wherever his future lies, he will surely go down if a cult hero among the supporters.